Waste to Energy Forum announces program updates

The Australian Waste to Energy Forum, one of the country’s most comprehensive waste events, returns to the Mercure in Ballarat 18-20 February 2020.

In its fifth consecutive year, the forum aims to provide a platform for all interested parties to discuss developments in Australia’s growing waste-to-energy (WtE) sector.

The theme for this year’s Australian Waste to Energy Forum, On the road to recovery, was selected to address two key areas: the application of waste hierarchy fundamentals; and changing perceptions about WtE facilities and their role within an integrated waste management strategy.

As in previous years, the event will run as a single stream, so all attendees can participate in all sessions. The aim is to provide a platform for discussion of challenges facing the industry, as well as showcasing latest technology and processes from Australia and around the world – both thermal and non-thermal.

Additionally, the forum will explore ways local government can co-operate with industry to develop appropriate infrastructure and deliver optimum waste services to their constitutes. Attendees will also hear case studies of projects that have successfully applied WtE technology.

Program overview:

The program features a range of speakers including Stephen Adamthwaite from EPA Victoria, who will present discuss WtE proposals, with particular reference to how proposals will fit under the new EP Act.

Trevor Evans, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, will deliver the Minister’s Address via video, after an official opening from City of Ballarat Mayor Ben Taylor.

Toby Terlet, Veolia Kwinana Project Director, will then detail challenges faced by a WtE facility in Tyseley, UK, including major upgrade works at the same time as industrial action, heavy snow and a declining national public sector budget.

This keynote presentation will discuss how Veolia worked proactively through the challenges with City of Birmingham to further cement the successful long-standing partnership and resulting in a 5-year contract extension.

Johnny Stuen, City of Oslo Waste-to-Energy Agency Technical Director, will deliver the second keynote presentation: providing an overview of the waste management system in Oslo, volumes technology and development work.

Oslo has optical sorting facilities, one for biological treatment/biogas production, and two WtE plants. The commercial WtE plant is the bigger of the two, and has competed projecting a full-scale carbon capture plant at site, awaiting investment decision.

Mr Stuen will also address why and how the source sorting system works, providing a detailed overview of technology, concept and market work for the biological treatment of organic waste in the system. He will also address regulative processes, development processes and further work.

Attendees will also hear from DELWP’s Angela Hoefnagels, Sustainability Victoria’s Matt Genever, CSIRO’s Daniel Roberts, Recovered Energy’s Ian Guss and ResourceCo’s Henry Anning.

Other discussion topics include WtE in a Circular Economy, Anaerobic Digestion, License to operate, current project updates, project development considerations and future opportunities and developments.

The Forum will also provide an opportunity for organisations to gain visibility and exposure in an interactive conference environment, with a number of social events and networking functions.

For more information click here.

Image curtesy of Paul Benjamin Photography. 

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Are you going to Ballarat?

Ahead of the Australian Waste to Energy Forum, Barry Sullivan, Committee Chair, discusses the developing national sector.

A waste-to-energy (WtE) facility in Creswick, Victoria is exploring how to inject clear, filtered green gas into the state’s gas network. Diverting 2000 tonnes of organic waste via bio-digestion each year, the facility will serve as a case study, with replication potential highlighted by the state government.

With news of green gas and a number of high-profile WtE projects, public WtE perceptions appear to be shifting. Images of smoke and burning plastics have been replaced by productive conversations about landfill diversion and the future of renewable energy.

It’s welcome news for the team at the Australian Waste to Energy Forum, which returns to the Mercure in Ballarat this year from 18-20 February.

In its fifth consecutive year, the forum aims to provide a platform for all interested parties to discuss developments in Australia’s growing WtE sector. This year’s theme, “On the road to recovery”, has been selected to address two key areas: the application of waste hierarchy fundamentals, and changing perceptions about WtE facilities and their role within an integrated waste management strategy.

According to Barry Sullivan, Forum Chair, one of the biggest WtE challenges is lack of access to information necessary to make informed and considered investment decisions.

“We are finding there is a lot of misinformation in the public arena that inhibits project development,” Barry says.

“The issue with going to a technology vendor without basic knowledge is they will often say, don’t worry, we can make this work. In other words, when you sell hammers, everything looks like a nail.”

He adds that before looking to technologies, people need to understand their waste stream, moisture levels, quantity and calorific value, as well as the type of offtakes they hope to produce.

“The committee, and conference host, the Australian Industrial Ecology Network, intend to foster that understanding with our event,” Barry explains.

The two-and-a-half-day conference will feature a range of informative thought leader driven discussions.

“It has always been a priority of the committee to seek out presentations that will address key themes through the program, instead of just grouping abstracts into sessions,” Barry says.

“The committee has closely monitored WtE projects and changing technology over the past seven years, and we want to highlight those developments to our audience.”

Nurturing community engagement and education is also the driver behind the committee’s decision to run with a single stream.

“As WtE is still in early phases, many don’t know if they need thermal or non-thermal solutions for example, so we decided to cover all WtE elements in the one stream,” he says.

“You don’t know what you don’t know, so it makes sense for all delegates to attend each presentation.”

The program features a range of range of speakers including Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, Blue Environment Director Bill Grant and a keynote from Veolia Kwinana Project Director Toby Terlet.

Toby’s presentation, Energy Recovery Facilities: What’s not written on the tin, will detail challenges faced by a WtE facility in Tyseley, UK, including major upgrade works at the same time as industrial action, heavy snow and a declining national public sector budget. This presentation will discuss how Veolia worked proactively through the challenges with City of Birmingham to further cement the successful long-standing partnership and resulting in a five-year contract extension.

To develop a thriving national industry, Barry says it’s important to not only showcase success, but share challenges openly.

“Last year we had a technology company present on their biggest failure, which provided a valuable lesson for everyone in the room,”
he says.

Other discussion topics include WtE in a circular economy, anaerobic digestion, licence to operate, current project updates, project development considerations and future opportunities and developments.

“We are hosting a session where local governments can talk about future plans. It won’t feature cities with official requests for a proposal in place, but rather those that want the WtE community to know they are thinking about it,” Barry says.

Another will be how to develop technologies that provide return on investment, in spite of small tonnages.

“While WtE in Australia is certainly advancing, progress has been slow, as government agencies tend to rely on standards from Europe and North America,” Barry says.

“But Australia is a different animal with different requirements. We simply don’t have the tonnages other countries do and it’s important to develop technology around that.”

According to Barry, hosting the forum in Ballarat creates a sense of occasion.

“Not only is Ballarat accessible, with trains running every hour from Melbourne, but having a group of likeminded individuals converge on one place creates a real sense of community, and with everyone in town, the evenings are known for networking,” he says.

“We’ve now gained quite a reputation – people aren’t asking ‘are you going to the WtE forum?’ They’re asking, ‘are you going to Ballarat?’

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Ballarat enters contract with Australian Paper Recovery

Glass will not be permitted in City of Ballarat recycling bins from 30 September, due to a new contract with Australian Paper Recovery.

City of Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh said Australian Paper Recovery has local markets for the processing and reuse of paper, cardboard, quality plastics and cans, but does not have a market for glass.

“Residents will be able to take their glass to one of several free glass drop-off sites around the municipality, either using their own container or one provided by council,” Ms McIntosh said.

“Alternatively, residents can put glass in the normal garbage bin, which will be collected and sent to landfill.”

Ms McIntosh said that for many years, Ballarat shipped its recycled material overseas for processing, which is no longer an option.

“Australia is now competing with other countries to access smaller and shrinking markets for our recyclables – so we are looking for local markets and local solutions,” Ms McIntosh said.

“The urgency to find a sustainable new recycling approach intensified after the recent collapse of SKM, which collected recyclables for more than 30 Victorian councils, including the City of Ballarat.”

Ms McIntosh said she knows the change may concern some residents.

“It concerns us too, but we have looked at all possibilities and at this stage, this option is the best and most cost-effective,” Ms McIntosh said.

“Our approach also means council will be able to ensure our recycling is processed locally and genuinely reused, at no additional cost to residents.”

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City of Ballarat signs waste to energy agreement with MRCB

A due diligence study can now be undertaken for the construction of a $300 million municipal waste to energy plant in the Ballarat West Employment Zone.

It comes as a result of the City of Ballarat signing a Waste to Energy Heads of Agreement with the Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB).

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The City of Ballarat has been planning for a waste to energy facility for five years, which would divert 60 per cent of the city’s waste into an energy source for industries and reduce the current regional landfill’s environmental impacts.

Currently, 30,000 tonnes of waste are deposited in the landfill each year, with waste disposal costing more than $18 million per year.

It is estimated that the plant would increase the size of Ballarat’s economy by $202 million through building and flow on effects, with about 420 jobs created during construction and 120 ongoing jobs.

MRCB’s technology partner, Babcock and Wilcox Volund, built its first waste to energy plant in 1931 and has gone on to build more in the United States, China, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Malaysia and Korea.

City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh said the Western region was already a leader in renewable energy production, particularly wind energy, but this announcement would further enhance its standing.

“Signing this Heads of Agreement means we are one significant step closer to a Waste to Energy plant in Ballarat that would be a regional solution to our waste reduction issues while providing an affordable and reliable energy source,” Cr McIntosh said.

“It would also be a driving force in attracting industries and employment to BWEZ by delivering a uniquely competitive advantage.”

“We will also maintain our commitment to minimising waste through continual education about re-use and recycling.”

MRCB’s Group Managing Director Imran Salim arrived from Kuala Lumpur to witness the Heads of Agreement signing by Ravi Krishnan, CEO of MRCB International.

“MRCB is delighted to be in Ballarat and looks forward to working closely with the City of Ballarat and the wider community on providing a world class facility,” Mr Salim said.

Waste timber used to power Ballarat disability services

A Ballarat social enterprise has begun using waste timber that would have been stockpiled or landfilled to cut down on its energy bills.

The project is the first being developed through the Ballarat Community Power Hub, a $900,000 program run by Sustainability Victoria.

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The Community Power Hubs program is being trialled for two years in the Ballarat, Bendigo and Latrobe regions to help communities make the transition to community-owned renewable energy systems.

Sustainability Victoria acting CEO Jonathan Leake said the Ballarat Community Power Hub has provided $6500 and considerable volunteer hours to help McCallum Disability Services access a new biomass boiler.

“A biomass system would reduce energy costs by $100,000 a year and be paid for in seven years,” he said.

“The 2000kw system will be powered by locally-sourced timber waste, operate well-under Environment Protection Authority emissions requirements and produce relatively little ash.”

Greenhouse gas emissions of up to 560 tonnes could be achieved if all natural gas is replaced.

“Importantly, reduced energy costs will allow for the expansion of services to provide additional employment for people with disabilities,” Mr Leake said.

The program is contributing to the Victorian Government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and having 40 per cent of the state’s energy needs coming from renewable energy by 2025.

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